Steps to Better Fishing

Good fishing makes for a good lake- right?  If fishing is good on your lake, chances are your lake has good water quality and a healthy shoreline.  Both are critical for a hearty fish population.

Fish are not fussy. They need three things to grow and flourish:

  • Clear water to find food, have enough oxygen breathe and allow sunlight to penetrate to grow abundant aquatic plants. Poor water quality can lead to increased populations of “tolerant” fish species such as common carp and black bullheads. Those fish species further contribute to turbid water conditions.
  • Food sources, such as plants, macroinvertebrates and other fish.  Plants are eaten by all kinds of aquatic wildlife, which may then be eaten by larger fish.  Macroinvertebrates are small water creatures such as mayfly and dragonfly larvae that provide a basic food source for most fish. They are considered an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. 
  • Shelter to provide cover from predation and good spawning grounds. Shelter can be in the form of woody structures, such as “fish sticks” (downed trees or large branches anchored to the shoreline) or emergent and submersed plants.  These plants have the added benefit of producing oxygen, reducing nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) and controlling excessive algal growth.

What can we do to improve fishing on our lake?

Having a healthy shoreline is essential to a healthy lake.  Shorelines with vegetation and native plants on the upland, shoreline and adjacent water reduce erosion from waves and rain, absorb nutrients and pollutants and provide habitat for both land and aquatic wildlife. Over 90% of wildlife depends on this critical area.  Lawns abutting the waters edge are detrimental to lake water clarity and fishing. Lawns don’t provide the water filtering and habitat needs required and may harm existing fishing habitat if added fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides wash off into the lake.  Reducing the area of lawn by the shoreline can have a big impact on water quality and fishing.

Preventing nonsource pollution (aka: water runoff) is also important for good fish habitat. Water runoff  from rains and snowmelt carry sediment, nutrients, oil, animal waste and other pollutants as it travels across driveways, parking lots and lawns before entering the lake. Redirecting that water runoff and capturing it into rain gardens, swails or dispersion areas where it can soak into the ground and be filtered first is key to improving lake water quality.   Simply redirecting downspouts from impervious surfaces to lawns and gardens on the upland sides of houses and garages (away from the lake) can make a big difference.

There are many steps that individual property owners can take to improve fishing on our lake. Every small step collectively has a big impact on the lake that we all share. Talk to your neighbors and encourage them to take action.  Together we can make  a difference.


The First Fishermen

Weren’t men, of course,

perhaps not even women.

They probably just waded in

tossing the stranded to the kids.

Then some lad rode a log, and liked it-

some Einstein carved a hook,

some Curie wove a net,

and by then, the one who got away,

took his beer

with him.


From ‘Thought Catching’

By David Mark Jenkins